Am I Doing This Right?

Thursday, 15 February 2018


Before every outing I have a bit of internal dialogue. Usually it goes along the lines of... You mean, I have to parent in public? Like.. People are going to see how I hold him? If he's hungry, I'm going to have to get out my boob and feed him? In front of people? And what if he start's crying and everyone's going to realise that I have no idea how to settle him without putting him on my boob? They'll say "oh just give him to his Mum" but they could probably calm him down better than me. Maybe we should just stay home. Before everyone realises I don't really know what I'm doing.

The other day I went to my first ever baby/mum group. It's called SPACE and it's kind of a baby development course where you hang out with other mums and their babes, sing songs and help the babies along as they grow older and discover more things. I don't really take Jackson out too much by myself, and if I do it's usually just short trips or walks so I can get in while he's sleeping or between feeds. This, however, was a threeish hour session. And I was shitting myself. What time will he wake up? Should I wake him up before we go, maybe feed him and risk him getting grizzly on the drive? Or maybe I should just try and drag out his sleep and hopefully he'll just wake up when we get there? But then when we get there, I'll have to feed him (cue freaking out about feeding him in public) and change him and we have this whole little routine but I don't know if I can manage it in front of everyone. 

Phew. Just thinking about it is enough for me to take him out of the car seat and just plonk down on the couch for a nap. 

Obviously, I went. And it honestly wasn't easy. The first feed went fine although I still struggle breastfeeding not at home. He's a heavy boy, my boobs are big and unfortunately I haven't yet nailed the art of cradling him while he feeds. Usually I'm comfy on the couch with a pillow or two to prop him up. But I was sitting on the floor, surrounded by 14 other mums. All the other mums had their lovely little babes in their arms, their boobs propped up nicely - no worries. And there's me, getting cramp in my leg, hunched over with my boob basically down to my knees and wrists feeling like they're going to break from trying to hold his head up while he slowly falls asleep and stops supporting his own head.

But we made it through the first feed. Which meant it was time to burp. Done. Great! Oh, but now this is the part where I normally change him. Maybe he could go a little while without needing to be changed... 

Hmmm. Hold on. A fart. Oh wait, that was more than a fart. Ahh crap that stinks. 

So with my 7kg baby in one arm, I rummage around in the bag trying to get find his nappy and the bag of wipes. And also trying not to drop him. Success! Off to the changing room, and back just in time to explain how Jackson was named after a guy off American Idol (from like, 3 years ago) who's name wasn't even Jackson but DeAndre and we thought DeAndre Jackson would be such a cool name but soon realised that we shouldn't call our baby DeAndre and just stuck with Jackson instead. True story. Anyway, now Jackson wants to have a wee chat which is cute until the chat turns into a bit of a whine because this is the part where I normally feed him on the other side and he'll go to sleep. But it's really hot in here, babies are starting to fuss and the atmosphere in the room is starting to get a little frantic due to the muggy weather and too many people in one room.

We have a little coffee/tea break so I get out the other boob and latch Jackson on but the thing is.. The second boob is never a fun time. It's part of the reason that I'm not a huge fan of feeding him in public. For his second feed (after his first and nappy change) he's usually after a bit of a lazy suck but you know, my body doesn't know that. So out comes the milk, full force and floods the poor boy causing him to choke. Which means he pulls off. And again, my boob hasn't really caught on to the fact that he's no longer sucking. Suddenly I've turned into a milk fountain and have not only squirted him in the face but am dripping all down my top and shorts. Of course, now he's crying and I'm trying to hold him while I find something to stop the flow, cover up my boob and also try to be discreet because I don't want to anyone to realise that not only have I choked my son on my over eager let down but that we're also both covered in milk. 

We managed to settle down on the sly but he was still being a bit fussy so outside we went for his burp. Ahh fresh air. Bliss. Oooh, lovely burp Jackson, well done. Actually hang on, that felt a bit wet. That felt like.. Oh. Good. Vom. Now, vomming is totally normal and it was actually the first he's ever done on me so I kinda feel like it was a right of passage but this was really turning into being the shittest first real outing out with him. And I got the "aw hun" which was 100% supportive but just made me feel like crap. Eventually we made our way back inside, I fed him again (no milk fountain this time) and he fell asleep - I think he'd just given up as well and figured sleeping through the rest of the session was the best idea. Me too buddy, me too.

When they announced our session was over at 2.30pm (a whole half hour early) I think there was a collective sigh of relief. We made it. It was over. Time to go home and attempt to settle our babies. And perhaps contemplate never leaving the house again. Or maybe that's me? 

The thing is, it really highlighted how unconfident and aware I am of my parenting. Of my skills as a Mum. Everything I did felt clumsy and awkward, especially in front of the other mums. Which is stupid because they're all first time mums and we've all had to learn on the job. If anyone knows what I'm going through, it's this group of ladies. But I couldn't help it - I felt like I wasn't doing anything right. Don't get me wrong though, it was lovely being out with other women who understand being a first time Mum and I know that I'll be going back.

I'm sure I'll get over it and the more I go out, the older Jackson gets, the more confident I'll be but at the moment, it's tough. It's tough not to compare. It's tough to just push myself to get out more because although I know it will make me more confident, I don't enjoy struggling in front of people.  I don't like the way I get all anxious just thinking about taking him out of the house. But I guess I just need to remind myself that I've made it this far so surely I'm doing something right. Right?

2 comments

  1. I went to one once and felt so anxious and horrible I never went again. I didn’t connect with anyone in the room and it felt like everyone was putting on a show.
    Good on you for giving it a go. I’d say, be yourself, be true to your baby, be an example for another mum in the room who may be feeling as unsure as you. Don’t change how you mum for the sake of others - you’re doing it right if it feels right for you and your baby.

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    1. Oh man, it's crazy how what's meant to be a supportive space can end up being the complete opposite! And I'm sure that a lot of the Mums were feeling the same as me, I guess that's where we need to let our guard down and be honest instead of pretending that we've got it all together. Unless we do. And in that case, well done you (ha!) Thank you - you've really got me thinking about how I'm looking at it and how I could potentially shift my focus to benefit both me and Jackson.

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